Note from 10Best: Someday, we’ll all be ready to pack our suitcases again and head out on our next adventures. In the meantime, we’ll keep supporting the places that inspire us.
To help you plan that perfect family vacation (whether for this summer or in the future), we enlisted the help of our readers to find the country’s best amusement parks and water parks, as well as theme park hotels, restaurants and entertainment. After four weeks of voting, the results are in.
Click on each category below to see the full list of winners:
Best Amusement Park: Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri
Winning amusement park is known for its rides and resident craftspeople alike — Photo courtesy of Silver Dollar City
Stepping into Silver Dollar City is like stepping back to an 1880s mining town. Covering over 100 acres, the park is the largest family-owned amusement park in the nation, attracting some two million visitors annually with its combination of on-park entertainment, festivals, 100 resident craftsmen and more than 40 rides and attractions.
The park debuted a new rafting ride inspired by the Ozark waterways, Mystic River Falls, in July 2020.
Best Amusement Park Entertainment: Celtic Fyre at Busch Gardens Williamsburg
This is the fourth win for the Busch Gardens show — Photo courtesy of Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Celebrate the Celtic tradition of storytelling through dance at this incredibly popular, high-energy show at Busch Gardens Williamsburg that will have you laughing and clapping to the beat of festive music. Animals native to Ireland make appearances and audience participation provides another fun angle.
Guests leave the show with a newfound or rekindled love for all things Irish.
Best Amusement Park Hotel: Universal’s Aventura Hotel in Orlando, Florida
Winning hotel is one of Universal’s newest accommodation offerings — Photo courtesy of Universal’s Aventura Hotel
The modern, stylish Aventura Hotel is within walking distance of Universal’s Volcano Bay water park. The property features 600 guest rooms and suites, a swimming pool, splash zone, fire pit, fitness center and a virtual reality game room. Guests enjoy early park admission, free shuttle service and free merchandise delivery from all Universal Orlando parks.
Best Amusement Park Restaurant: Cesari’s Pizza at Knoebels
This winning restaurant at Knoebels has a legion of loyal fans — Photo courtesy of iStock / GANNAMARTYSHEVA
Cesari’s Pizza is a fan-favorite at Pennsylvania’s Knoebels amusement park. The menu features freshly made pizza by the pie or the slice, as well as calzones, stromboli, pickle on a stick and cannoli for dessert.
Best Non-Roller Coaster Ride: Falcon’s Fury at Busch Gardens Tampa, Florida
Busch Gardens winner is the nation’s tallest freestanding drop tower — Photo courtesy of Busch Gardens Tampa
Busch Gardens Tampa is home to North America’s tallest freestanding drop tower, the 335-foot Falcon’s Fury. This isn’t any old drop ride; seats pivot 90 degrees and drop riders face first at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. The ride to the top takes about a minute – loads of time to soak up the stellar views.
Best Roller Coaster: Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point
Winning coaster debuted as the world’s tallest and fastest hybrid coaster — Photo courtesy of Cedar Point
The world record-breaking Steel Vengeance debuted at Cedar Point in May 2018 as the world’s tallest and fastest hybrid coaster with the steepest drop (90 degrees), longest drop (200 feet), most inversions (four), and most airtime (27.2 seconds) on any hybrid coaster.
At 5,740 feet, it’s also the world’s longest hybrid coaster and sure to be a guest favorite.
Best Outdoor Water Park: Lost Island Waterpark in Waterloo, Iowa
This was the first win for Lost Island — Photo courtesy of Lost Island Waterpark
At Lost Island Waterpark in Waterloo, Iowa, park-goers can take the plunge at Lost Soul Falls, catch a wave in Tsunami Bay, float on the Kailahi River, play some volleyball in Blue Iguana Lagoon or ride one of the world’s only hydromagnetic water coasters, Wailua Kapua.
Congratulations to all our theme park and water park winners.